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Views from the Dark Side of American History

Michael Fellman

Publication Year: 2011

Throughout his long and influential career, Michael Fellman has explored the tragic side of American history. Best known for his path-breaking work on the American Civil War and for an interdisciplinary methodology that utilizes social psychology, cultural anthropology, and comparative history, he has delved into issues of domination, exploitation, political violence, racism, terrorism, and the experiences of war. Incorporating essays written over the past thirty years—two of them previously unpublished, and the others not widely available—Views from the Dark Side of American History reveals some of the major personal and scholarly concerns of his career and illuminates his approach to history, research, applied theory, and analysis. Each essay includes a thought-provoking preface and afterword that situate it in its time and explore its intellectual and political contexts. Fellman also grapples with the personal elements of developing as a historian—the people with whom he argued or agreed with, the settings in which he gave or published the papers, and the subjective as well as historical issues that he addressed. The collection encourages history students, historians, and general readers of history to think through the layers of their historical engagement and to connect their personal experiences and social commitments to their explorations.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-11

Like so many things in life, the idea for this book grew not from a plan but from a random discovery connected to a chance encounter. Several years ago I was cleaning out my history department office at Simon Fraser University as I prepared to move to another campus of the same institution...

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1. Madison Daze

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pp. 12-28

Remembering that i had been born and bred in Madison, Wisconsin, my former Simon Fraser University colleague Bryan Palmer, who had moved on to Queen’s University (and subsequently would go to Trent University), asked me to review a collection of essays edited by Paul Buhle on Madison “in the day.” I saw no good reason to keep my...

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2. Shadows of the Holocaust: Jewish American Historians and the Black Slave Character

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pp. 29-52

In 1980–81, I spent a fascinating year as Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Haifa. I first delivered this paper at the 1981 conference of the American Studies Association of Israel, and subsequently in Philadelphia at the April 1982 convention of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). As I sent in a solo submission,...

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3. At the Nihilist Edge: Reflections on Guerrilla Warfare during the American Civil War

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pp. 53-87

One day in 1991, two years after the publication of Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War, in the ancient pre-Internet era, a letter appeared in my mailbox inviting me to participate in a conference entitled “On the Road to Total War” to be held the following year in Washington, D.C., by the German Historical Institute...

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4. Alligatormen and Cardsharpers: Deadly Southwestern Humor

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pp. 88-116

One crisp fall day in 1982, I was sitting in my basement office in Dickinson Hall at Princeton University when Tony Grafton, a then-young medievalist, stuck his head in my door and asked, “Do you know any good stories?” I asked in return whether he meant dirty ones or otherwise, but he just repeated the question. For some reason, Mark Twain...

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5. Robert E. Lee: Myth and Man

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pp. 117-135

Two years prior to delivering this paper I published The Making of Robert E. Lee, and so I had had my say on this southern patrician general who had been transformed into the most highly mythicized icon of the Lost Cause. While writing that book, I had taken it as my charge to...

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6. Reflections on Inside War

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pp. 136-151

After the Civil War, northern veterans formed the Grand Army of the Republic, which served as a powerful lobby to demand pensions for those who fought—the first major use of the national government for social welfare expenditures—and to build clubhouses for fellowship, celebration,...

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pp. 153-155

I think I was hooked on doing history during my freshman year at Oberlin College in the class of Frederic Cheyette, a brilliant and hardnosed young medievalist who pushed us through tons of reading, topically arranged, and made us argue with him rather than lecturing to us. That...

E-ISBN-13: 9780807139035
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807139028

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War